September 9, 1850: California Becomes 31st American State


A Brief History

On September 9, 1850, in the middle of the California Gold Rush, California was admitted to the Union as the 31st state of the United States.  The second largest state at the time until the admission of Alaska, when it fell to third, California is currently the most populous U.S. state and has claim to many other reasons why it might be the greatest state.

Digging Deeper

The state that gave us Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, the politicians Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Nixon, California also gives us world class wines and Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat.

California is also blessed with mountains, beaches, an incredibly scenic highway, Beverly Hills, surfer dudes and Valley girls.

Speaking of politicians, Californians even re-elected their former governor Jerry Brown back into office in 2011 after he had previously served as governor from 1975 to 1983, an incredible 28 years between terms!  When it comes to electing public figures, Californians seem to have a special place in their hearts for actors and elected B-movie actor Ronald Reagan as governor before he went on to win the race for the White House.  In recent years, California has become more and more left in its leanings, although in 2003 voters ousted the Democratic governor Gray Davis and inserted former body builder and action film hero Arnold “The Austrian Oak” Schwarzenegger in his place.  Arnold, often beset by claims of sexual harassment, turned out to have fathered a child out of wedlock with his maid, which put an end to all remaining political aspirations.  When compared to Richard Nixon, however, former Senator from California and disgraced President of the United States, Arnold does not look that bad.  Other performers have also been elected to office, with Sonny Bono and Clint Eastwood among them.

In terms of sports, California boasts an incredible array of professional teams: including 3 National Football League (NFL) teams; 5 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams; 4 National Basketball Association (NBA) teams and 1 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team; 3 National Hockey League (NHL) teams; and 3 pro soccer teams.  College sports is also big business there, with major schools being UCLA and USC.

California is the agricultural leader of the the U.S., and produces half of the nation’s fruit.  The U.S. used to get its pistachios from Iran, but after the 1979 unpleasantness, Californian producers provided this service.  

The Golden State is also home to many major U.S. military installations.

In one statistic not to be proud of, though, it is also home to one third of all Americans on welfare! 

Caucasians (whites) make up 57% of the population and Mexicans 31%.  Obviously Spanish is the second most spoken language in California, but can you guess the third most spoken language?  It is Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines.

Los Angeles has replaced Chicago as the second largest American city and together with Hollywood and San Francisco is renowned for its colorful characters. 

What is your favorite place in California?  Who is your favorite Californian?  Please share your California stories.

For another interesting event that happened on September 9, please see the History and Headlines article: “10 Times Slaves Rose Up Against Their Masters.”

If you liked this article and would like to receive notification of new articles, please feel welcome to subscribe to History and Headlines by entering your email address at the top right of this page. 

Your readership is much appreciated!

Historical Evidence

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Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.

  • Jacob Benedict

    I have never been to California but always thought that it would be amazing to travel there.

  • Brendon boxler

    California is a home to wonders, and I hope to travel someday to find out what it’s really like. I seems California is the place to live !

  • Mike Rinicella

    I never been to California but I always wanted to go to San Diego because to me, that’s the best place to go to in CA.

  • Alex Guthrie

    A 4th NFL team may be added to the state….St. Louis Ram’s officials are in talks with the city of Los Angeles to bring back football to LA.

  • Tom Kubrak

    My favorite place in California is Irvine because it is southern California which means its quite warm. My favorite Californian would have to be my Aunt Denise because she understands how to help and take care of others.

  • Harvey Tolley

    Some of my favorite cities in the world are in California. San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The state has amazing beauty. Mountains, the ocean and desert. My favorite time I had in California was my first time in LA and the sun was coming up and the song by Sheryl Crow “All I Want To Do” came on just as we turned onto Santa Monica Blvd. Great memory.

  • Ben Nevers

    I have been to California once. San Francisco was a very cool city. I have also been to San Jose which had a little bit nicer weather.

  • Anthony Jasany

    My sister lives in California. I have been there many times and it is one of my favorite states.

  • Alexandra Bull

    I would absolutely love to visit California someday! I think it would be amazing to experience at least one time.

  • Holly Damron

    I did not know that California is home to one third of Americans on welfare. The majority of things you hear about California are positive, but I think we should focus more on the economic issues that come from California.

  • Alexandria McDole

    I did not know a lot of performers were elected for office. But California is BEAUTIFUL!


  • Nathan

    I never knew Clint Eastwood was elected into office. Or that so many from California are on welfare. California is nice until you realize it’s directly on a fault line.


  • G Wise

    With family in CA, it’s cool reading up about it! A lot of it I didn’t know before. GW

  • Madison Galloway

    I have never been a big fan of the city, but I think California would be a very interesting place to visit. Whether it was the beach, or Hollywood, CA seems to be a very neat place and a visit would be accompanied by many adventures.

  • Tessa Baker

    California is definitely the most interesting state to learn about! I didn’t know most of this information before.

  • Parker Stricklen

    Glad to know more information about the origins of California. Don’t think all of it is worth the cost of living over there though 😉

  • Erica wheaton

    The fact that most of California’s Governors have been actors or some sort should tell you that they care more for appearance than for political reasons.

  • Kyle Puhl

    I knew that there was a lot of sports teams in California, but I didn’t realize the extent to all the different kinds of sports and the shear amount of teams there.

  • lukas Biglin

    California is an awesome state in general with some weird facts like the amount of actor governors and huge number of sports

  • Brittani Briner

    My brother lives in San Diego, and i really enjoyed my time in California when I visited him. I remember going to the beach and seeing someone use one of those water jet pack things and it was really cool.

  • Anna Ingles

    I have traveled to southern California a few times as young child and teenager. I went to LA, Anahiem (Disneyland), and Palm Springs. I would like to go back and vacation there as an adult.

  • Derek Reynolds

    i have always wanted to go to california

  • Colin Williams

    I had no idea California elected so many entertainers to
    office, I had only known of Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  • Mikayla Hutchings

    Both of my parents grew up in California, so it was interesting to read what it is known for! I would love to visit sometime, but would never want to live there due to the crowds and high living costs.

  • Maria Ndini

    California has always been my dream. I would love to visit sometime and even move there in the future. It was really interesting to read all the things California is known for. I didn’t know a few of the things mentioned.

  • Ellen Liebenguth

    I thought that it was interesting that California has a large population of Tagalog speakers from the Phillipines and Spanish speakers. I think that its location has contributed to its vast amount of diversity. Its on the west coast with access to Asia, but also connected to Mexico by the south. Its kind of in the center of everything if you think about it.

  • Claire Fraser

    When I went to California I thought it was going to be a lot more glamorous than what I saw. I would love to drive down the coast sometime after graduation.

  • Frank F.

    California is still on my list of dream vacations to see all the iconic scenery and enjoy the weather on a day to day basis. Sorry for Golden State who lost to the best team in the NBA the Cleveland Cavilers. I also did not the that Spanish people are the second most populated people who live there.

  • Mark Baniewicz

    While this article lists several reasons why California is a great state, the most impressive to me is the number of professional sports teams within their borders. It is the most populous state so it definitely makes sense for them to support so many professional sports organizations. I have never been to California but it is definitely on my bucket list.

  • Morgan price

    I never knew so many actors were elected to office in California. I can see why this might be since California or more specifically Hollywood, is where actors go to begin their careers. I also did not know California produces a half of all agriculture for the US. I’ve never been to California but I’m considering going now. It sounds lovely!

  • Alexandra

    California is a great state, but might as well be two! Southern and Northern California are remarkably different, between the weather and the people. I went to USF for 2 years so I was able to get well acquainted with San Francisco. it’s truly an amazing place, though the weather is pretty terrible! SoCal is beautiful, but don’t get me started on the people!

  • Nicholas Mog

    I have never been to California, but view it as somewhat as a bucket list item. It would be awesome to visit LA, San Diego, and San Francisco. I would love to visit Dodger Stadium for a game, or potentially see a USC-UCLA football game.

  • Daniel Cora

    California has a lot of history, starting with the Gold Rush, and has been home to a lot of famous people, probably because of how populated it is as well as being home to Hollywood. I do not know what my favorite part of California is because I have never been there.

  • Alexander Correa

    The state alone provides so much for this country in terms of supplies and entertainment. I have always wanted to visit Cali and hope to in the near future.

  • Lauren Synek

    I have never been to California, but hope to go there in the future to explore some of its more well known cities. I don’t usually talk about politics, but with the election coming up and Donald Trump being in the running I was surprised to find out about all the semi-famous or famous people California has elected to be governor or even Senator.

  • Hannah Grazia

    I never knew California provided so much for the country. I also did not know it is the agricultural leader in the US! I have been to California 3 times and I could see why this state is so highly populated. What a great place to have in the United States!

  • Mike Andelbradt

    One thing I love about California is the amazingly diverse landscapes from north to south and east to west. You have mountains, beaches, and everything in between.

  • Amanda Lopuchovsky

    I never realized how many things California has to offer other than celebrities. I have never been to California, but I have always wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Hopefully I get to one day!

  • Erin Kochan

    Why does California have such a fascination for electing people that are already in the public eye (actors, etc.) to become politicians. It seems like a lot of them have lead to scandal.

  • Peyton Elliott

    I never knew California was our leader in agriculture in the U.S. and also produces half of our fruit. I guess when your state is that big so is the production.

  • Christina Hickey

    Having California become a state during the Gold Rush is almost predictable, because that was the time where many were traveling out West for gold. It is no surprise that a lot of the governors of California were actors.

  • Dana Roman

    California brings a lot to not only the state itself but also to our country as a whole. I have never been to California but after reading all these fascinating things there are there I will definitely need to make a visit!

  • Joshua Dzurko

    I have never been to California but from everything I read and seen of it, it seems amazing. Truly one of the most special places in America for a plethora of reasons.

  • Sarah

    California, being the 3rd largest state, with its scenic views, beaches and so on, it must be a big tourist area for traveling as well!

  • Matt Grazia

    I would love to go visit California for a visit. It sounds like there is definitely a lot to see! I was not aware of how many different pro sports teams were located there.

  • Matt E.

    My sister lives in San Diego and says the weather is perfect. Never too hot, never too cold, and always sunny. I plan to visit her sometime soon.

  • Brandon Simpson

    Ive only been to California for like 3 hours on my way to Hawaii, but from what I have heard it has all types of seasons and scenes throughout, since it stretches up the coast.

  • Nikos Nacopoulos

    I’ve never been out to California but I would like to go see it. It always interests me that CA became a state so much sooner than all of those Rockies states to its east!

  • joe leary

    I want to move out to California after I graduate from JCU. It is interesting to read about a state that may be my home state in the future.